To my kids
as nothing is
Ralph Waldo Emerson
< 3 >>
What is an > Do you find yourself eating
more quickly than those
adrenalin > Do you eat lunch at your desk
more than 3 times a week?
> Do you often drive fast even
if you are not in a hurry?
> If you had 3 weeks to finish
something, would you still
You love doing many things at once. You thrive on chaos. You live leave it to the last minute?
with a sense of urgency. You enjoy the feeling of too much.
> Is it hard to imagine yourself
doing nothing, just sitting –
no TV, no reading, absolutely
nothing – for an hour a day?
You snap at others for no reason. You wonder what you actually
accomplished despite all your rushing around. You fall in a heap at
the end of the day.
If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions you are probably an adrenalin junkie.
< 4 >> < 5 >>
There are 2 natural highs There are 5 major natural chemicals
that all contribute to whatever
mood you’re in
12 1 quick (adrenalin)
1 slow (serotonin)
adrenalin switches you on for short bursts when you need it
serotonin keeps you feeling calm and centered for longer periods
1 adrenalin the chemical of speed and heightened alertness
2 serotonin the chemical of happiness and enduring motivation
3 cortisol the chemical of irritation and high anxiety
4 melatonin the chemical of deep, refreshing sleep
5 insulin the chemical that regulates your levels of blood glucose
the secret to a natural high 24/7 is to Each of these big 5 chemicals creates a distinct cascade of physical
maintain the right balance between changes in your body. By learning to recognise their effects, you can
intervene to take better control of your moods. You’ll be calmer and
the 2 more productive.
< 6 >> < 7 >>
The 5 big natural chemicals are Body chemistry is less contained than brain chemistry. Its effects can be
more immediately apparent, but they don’t last as long. Some chemicals,
activated by 2 distinct biological such as adrenalin and melatonin, work across both systems.
1 brain chemistry Adrenalin functions as both
(subtle, slow-acting, long-lasting)
> a neurotransmitter in
2 body chemistry the brain
(direct, swift, volatile)
> a hormone in the
The 100 billion neurons in your brain link up with each other via
neurotransmitters to create the almost infinite complex networks that govern
memory, language, appetite, mood, the sleep–wake cycle and much, much
more. There are several key neurotransmitters. Serotonin is the most
important for maintaining inner contentment.
Body chemistry is regulated by hormones that are produced in the endocrine
glands. Their secretion into your system can have an immediate and dramatic Adrenalin is a powerful chemical force.
effect — for example, the sudden flood of adrenalin from the adrenal cortex
when you have to break unexpectedly to avoid rear-ending the car in front. Use it well.
< 8 >> < 9 >>
The purpose of adrenalin Too much travel on the adrenalin
is to prepare you for super expressway leads to cortisol
fight or flight. gridlock.
When your body secretes adrenalin the cascade of
Cortisol is released with adrenalin and works collaboratively with it to
physical reactions is like an expressway
manage stressful events. It prepares the body for fight or flight by
> breathing becomes shallow
> increasing muscle tension
> blood thickens and pulse races
> decreasing inflammation
> sugar is dumped from the liver
> dumping sugar into the bloodstream
> cholesterol goes up
> opening fat cells
> appetite is suppressed
The buzz that adrenalin gives you is stimulating and
Unfortunately, it has some pretty nasty side-effects. High levels in your
exciting. But the problem for adrenalin junkies is that
system for prolonged periods can leave you
you rely too much on the buzz and end up placing
undue stress on your entire system. While the exact
> edgy and anxious
amount of adrenalin in the body varies between
> aching from tension headaches and stiff joints
individuals, there is a finite amount available each
> out of balance and out of control
Beware: the effects of
depleted adrenalin are the
same as not having any
The other danger of
doing everything in
An action-packed life is typical of the adrenalin junkie. You only
know 2 speeds. You’re either on — full-on — or asleep.
fast forward is that
Because the feeling of an adrenalin high is addictive, without realising it you adrenalin junkies can
may be trying to be on 100% of the time. You may not be aware that this is
how you go through your day. You’re simply moving fast in response to a
high-speed life. Too much to do to slow down.
Thing is, the downside of the adrenalin high is the adrenalin crash.
cowboys (and girls).
When the entire day becomes one big stress event, it’s a sign that cortisol
This is the feeling of anti-climax you get when you finish a major project,
has taken over. This leads to burnout and exhaustion. More seriously, it can
the restlessness you feel on holiday, the boredom you endure on a slow
contribute to serious stress-related illness and premature ageing. It also
day at work.
makes you less than fun to have around.
When things aren’t happening, you feel vaguely depressed.
> cortisol cowboys are easily rattled
> they overreact
> they snap at colleagues and loved ones
> they feel as if somehow everything that goes wrong is
If you’re an adrenalin junkie who’s feeling increasingly miserable, you may
well be cranky on cortisol. Time to intervene and re-establish a natural high.
Are you beginning to drop the ball on important
Are you a Do you feel overwhelmed more often than you
think you should?
candidate for Do you frequently feel worn out at the end of the
Do you feel let down by people more often than
Does your body ache, particularly when you
There is a fine line between being
stop being busy?
Have you been too busy to call close friends and
fired up and being Have you lost your sense of humour?
burnt out! Does sex seem like more trouble than it’s worth?
Do you have less to say to people in social
There is a world of difference between being motivated and being over-
excited. If track and field athletes are too excited before a race, they peak
too early and don’t have enough ‘go’ for the distance.
Adrenalin junkies tend to peak early, go hard and then run
quality of performance
Being over-excited is not a healthy state. It’s hard on your body and, if
you’re frantic on cortisol, it’s hard on everyone around you as well.
Balance your body chemistry and
achieve a calm readiness rather
than a hectic energy.
too little arousal too much arousal
This calm readiness is called
being in flow. degree of arousal >
There are 5 key lifestyle factors that 1 Sleep restores chemical balance, repairs damage to muscle
help you navigate your daily tissue, processes memories and stores those that are significant in your
expressways and maintain a natural
high 24/7 2 Food has a direct and immediate effect on your internal
chemistry. What you eat can elevate your serotonin levels or cause an
how well you sleep
3 Activity has both a foundation and a trigger effect. A good
fitness level provides a stable foundation for managing pressure with less
adrenalin. Certain exercises boost the production of serotonin for good calm
the way you manage stress vibes. And rigorous exercise helps to burn off excess cortisol when times
2 how well you eat
4 Thinking influences body chemistry profoundly. If you are
scared, adrenalin kicks in. If you are sad, serotonin levels are decreased.
It’s essential to listen to your inner dialogue if you want to pursue a naturally
4 the way you think
throws your chemistry out of balance, but you can
how active you are improve your tolerance to it. Recognising your response to stress and acting
appropriately is crucial to avoiding burnout and crashes.
Check your Activity
Do you exercise more than 3 times a week?
lifestyle Do you seek out incidental activity where possible, say,
by taking the stairs instead of the lift?
Is exercise a habit for you?
Does it take you about 20 minutes fall asleep at night?
Do you wake up and go to bed at pretty much the Do you take responsibility for what happens in your
same time each day? world?
Are you optimistic about the future?
Food Do you think well of yourself?
Do you drink more than 8 glasses of water a day? Stress
Is your diet a balanced mix of protein, carbs and fat?
Do you eat 3 to 5 meals a day? Do your relationships energise you?
Do you look for unprocessed, natural or organic Are you engaged and focused in your life?
products where possible? Are you still learning something new every day?
Sleep is the number 1 Racing around all morning on adrenalin until you exhaust your daily supply,
then continuing the pace on cortisol leaves your brain over-stimulated and
your body fatigued. Adrenalin and cortisol mask exhaustion. If you’re over-
way to maintain your tired when you get to bed, you can spend hours trying to calm down
enough to fall asleep.
body balance. Adrenalin junkies are also prone to
With great sleep you’re assured a natural high. Deep sleep means you’ll have burning the candle at both ends. If
you do this, you may find that you
> greater productivity gradually build up a considerable
> better focus amount of sleep debt.
> more creativity
If you’re not enjoying plenty of refreshing sleep, you’ll find it difficult to
During the night the brain breaks down serotonin to create the powerful remember important details or pay attention during the day, besides
brain chemical melatonin. This chemical is the key to getting a good night’s lacking energy.
sleep. Its production is triggered by darkness and turned off again by light
striking the eye. Not sleeping well is the enemy of
Serotonin and melatonin work together to create your all-important peak performance, so don’t put up
with bad sleep. Work out the source
There are several factors that can upset this balance. of the problem and take action.
get in a rut with your sleep
Develop a sleep routine by getting up at the same time every day. Yep, even
This doesn’t mean creating perfect silence — which may prevent you from
weekends. The more regular you are, the better you’ll cope with the sleeping if you’re not used to it — but levelling out random noises that
occasional unavoidable disruption. If you travel, re-establish your routine as interrupt sleep. High-quality earplugs can help if you’re desperate.
soon as you get home.
If you’re in sleep debt, try adding hours to the start of your sleep cycle
rather than the end. Sleeping in is not the answer. You’re likely to wake up
regulate your body temperature
Wear nightwear made from natural fibres and have different summer and
feeling more groggy than ever.
winter bed covers if your seasonal temperature varies greatly. Don’t cuddle
all night long if your partner has a higher core temperature than you. If you
relax before going to bed
Don’t keep working right up until bedtime, trying to get one more thing done.
both weigh more than 60 kg try sleeping on a king size bed or in two singles
Give yourself permission to chill for as long as possible before sleeping.
don’t let the bedbugs bite
make your bedroom dark
Artificial lighting, while generally not bright enough to stimulate serotonin,
Debug your mattress, change or refill your pillows often, sleep in crisp, clean
sheets, give the doona a good shake daily, keep your bed fresh and inviting.
is bright enough to suppress melatonin. Dim the lights as the evening
progresses or burn candles. Read in bed with a mini book light.
exercise during the day
You’ll get better quality rest if you find a healthy way to tire yourself out.
An hour of exercise — particularly aerobic exercise — during the day will
pay rich dividends when it’s time to turn in.
Have you ever noticed that if you don’t eat
breakfast you can go till 1.00 pm and not even
think of food, yet if you eat breakfast you’re
hungry by 10.00 am?
A hunger signal is often an annoyance for adrenalin junkies. You don’t want
to be bothered by something so basic.
Nevertheless, hunger is a good thing. It’s a signal that your metabolism is
hunger firing and that you have to provide yourself with regular replenishment.
is your friend Eating regularly saves valuable adrenalin. Not eating forces your body into
an emergency response. This puts you under unnecessary strain and can
lead eventually to stress-related illnesses.
Set up good eating patterns and enjoy the better ability to focus that comes
from a steady energy supply.
Feed your body
and learn to focus.
you know you shouldn’t you know you should
don’t ever skip breakfast
Even if you’re not hungry, you need to fire up your metabolism with
something healthy at the start of each busy day.
don’t overdo the refined carbs
Filling up on highly processed carbs produces a rapid rise in blood-glucose
levels and causes your body to release higher levels of insulin in response.
don’t overdo the fatty food
High-fat foods give you a temporary adrenalin spike, but overloading your
adrenal system can leave you feeling lethargic and low later.
don’t overdo the caffeine
Too much (like, more than 5 lattes a day) can give the average adrenalin
junkie unpleasant side effects like headaches, dehydration, an irritated gut
eat low GI carbs for most of your meals
Munch multigrain bread, experiment with different grains and legumes, load
up on plenty of vegetables, go wholemeal.
the good oils
Think lean — chicken breast, fish, new-fashioned pork, tofu — and grilled,
baked or steamed.
Boost your intake of essential omega-3 fats by eating deep-water fish 3 times
a week and by adding flaxseed oil to salads and LSA to breakfast cereal.
take a supplement
If you know you’re facing a day of crisis management and deadlines, give
your body a fighting chance by taking a multi-vitamin supplement.
don’t overdo the alcohol Taking the time to savour your food is a useful opportunity to slow down for
It’s a depressant, so don’t use it to help you unwind. a minute.
exercise produces its own buzz and
leaves you exhilarated and on a natural high. Regular exercise lays a
foundation for peak performance by giving you more energy, improving
Being fit gives you more stamina for handling tough or draining situations.
your stress threshold and burning up those nasty stress chemicals.
All forms of exercise help you to produce melatonin more effectively for a
good night’s rest.
> stand more and sit less
> stand up straight and don’t lean or slump increased stress threshold
> climb the stairs instead of taking the lift when Your stress threshold is linked to how efficiently your lungs transfer oxygen
into your bloodstream. Being fit improves this efficiency, so everyday
activities become easier as they begin to fall under your threshold.
> park the car a distance from where you want to be and
walk the rest of the way
> walk your kids to or from school stabilised blood sugar
> walk up escalators A regular resistance training program evens out blood sugar levels, which
means more stable energy without the ups and downs caused by swinging
> go and talk to your colleagues sometimes, insulin events. Resistance training also helps to significantly slow down the
rather than firing off emails all day process of muscle wasting that occurs as we age.
There are 3 key areas to focus on in Adrenalin junkies gravitate towards fast, challenging, competitive exercise,
but this is not necessarily the best thing for you. Save your adrenalin for
order to achieve good all-round life’s high-pressure moments. Exercise to settle your mind as well as work
your body and aim for a steady level of intensity.
(anything that elevates your heart rate) a spin class rather than mountain bike riding
strength a jog rather than playing touch football
a yoga or Pilates class for a whole new movement experience
(anything that puts your muscles under load)
On the other hand, vigorous exercise that pushes you to exhaustion is
(stretching out those tight muscles) the best way to manage cortisol. Best done at the end of a horror day.
Don’t attempt this unless you already have a good fitness level.
Seek out activities that you enjoy in each area. A good weekly balance is
3 cardiovascular sessions try
2 resistance training sessions
1 flexibility session 100msprints against a stopwatch rather than running on a treadmill
Don’t forget to step up the pace progressively. It’s regular, small changes a heavy weights session rather than a barbell class
that cause your body to adapt and grow stronger, more toned and more
flexible. a combat class to unleash your inner warrior
Somewhere in our life someone has taught us that speed is of itself a
Are you guilty of
Knowing how to go fast is one thing,
knowing when to go fast is another Do you jump to conclusions a few words into
skill altogether. someone else’s sentence?
Do you get easily distracted when others talk?
Do you have trouble staying focused on one idea?
Speed when Do you race an idea to its conclusion way ahead
of others around you?
Do you get impatient with people who don’t
there is need. apply themselves?
Being a speedy thinker can be very useful. Knowing when to slow it down is
even more valuable. Children learn to run fast first, and then they learn to
think about where they are running. Speed without need is a waste.
Being busy has acquired a new status. It is now equated with importance.
Get off busy and get down
We often complain about being overloaded, but somewhere inside we need
the sense of being indispensable and in-demand. to business.
Do your most important task first. This is usually not checking phone
Adrenalin junkies are susceptible to packing their days to the brim. The trap messages or replying to email or clearing your desk.
is that being busy can add up to lots and lots of activity that isn’t all that
productive in the end. The days whiz by in a blur of urgent things to do, but Eliminate in-trays. Instead, work in blocks on projects. File items based on
priorities are still neglected and valuable objectives are not accomplished. projects.
Put each activity for the day through a filter that asks:
Does this support my main thing for today?
Is it part of something important?
Don’t put in the hours. Produce results.
If 20% of what you do reaps 80% of your results, what would
happen if you did the 20%, 100% of the time?
Trust that good things
needn’t take much time.
It’s not enough to be efficient. We also need to be effective.
Pull back and clear your mind
unclench talk slowly
Become aware of tension in your body. Unclench the tight muscles in your This has the added effect of slowing down your thought patterns and
jaw, your neck or your shoulders. If you’re sitting, don’t cross your legs. If keeping you more anchored to the here and now.
you’re standing, make sure your weight is distributed evenly between both
feet and that your spine is long.
stop fidgeting Take yourself somewhere quiet for a little while, even if it’s just to the
bathroom. Some adrenalin junkies distract themselves with noise all day and
Likewise, stop tapping, scribbling, chewing, fiddling or using any other little think that the sound of silence is empty and strange. In fact, it’s a powerful
nervous ploys that keep your body tense. counterbalance to a frantic existence.
breathe be willing and able
Discover what Indian mystics have known for 5000 years: your breath is the These techniques are more effective than seeking comfort in another coffee
most effective means at your disposal for controlling feelings of anxiety. or cigarette or calling your best mate for a good moan. If you want to
Take several slow, deep breaths in through your nostrils and out through control your adrenalin spikes, it’s within your power to do so — but you
your mouth. Feel the tension melting from your body. must be willing to change some of your favourite bad habits.
lessons learned in gaol
If you don’t give prisoners daylight, they become depressed and aggressive.
If you don’t give prisoners exercise, they become stressed and restless.
If you don’t let prisoners sleep, they become withdrawn and suicidal.
If you don’t give prisoners purpose, they become disoriented and listless. eating
If you don’t give prisoners food, they become angry and resentful. a purpose
Are you making a
prison for your body?
There are 2 ways of looking at the We each have a natural predisposition
world to either optimism or pessimism.
Defining your own way of looking at the world is an essential building block
for change. The one thing that is always within your power to control is your
optimistic pessimistic attitude. With a little training, you can develop a more optimistic outlook.
When things go wrong, pessimists tend to have hopeless thoughts. Try to
replace bitter and negative self-talk with more encouraging and kind words.
Talk to yourself as if you were cheering up a friend or one of your kids.
Optimists are Also, don’t ruminate on bad events. Do something pleasurable and
> more resistant to infectious illnesses and better at fighting disease entertaining to distract you from your worries — watch the comedy channel,
> more likely to see setbacks as temporary go to the movies, hire a funny film for the night. Humour will put you in a
> more likely to inspire and motivate others better frame of mind for thinking creatively about your troubles and is a
> more satisfied with their achievements and more confident of powerful antidote to the blues. Nurture your sense of humour and seek a
continued success regular comedy hit to help you break the cycle of self-defeating reactions.
It is your mind that creates this world The Buddha
Is this you? You can
Adrenalin junkies are characteristically highly motivated and ambitious Eliminate a great deal of self-inflicted anxiety in your life and ease up on
and take their work very seriously. This means that they also tend to adrenalin events if you can learn to let go of seeking positive feedback to
be perfectionists. make you feel worthwhile.
Perfectionism is a special kind of hell. remind yourself that perfection does not
> Perfectionists have to be the best or they don’t want to know.
> Perfectionists believe they can always do better, in fact they must do it now – procrastinate later
> Perfectionists live in an endlessly postponed future. The here and live in the now
now is only a means of moving forward to more impressive
achievements. welcome your mistakes
The root cause of perfectionism is Remember — relinquishing the need to
often a need for validation. achieve all the time is in itself a
Perfectionists maintain their unrelenting significant, life-enhancing achievement.
standards in order to receive the
admiration and approval of others.
There are 2 types of stress Adrenalin junkies under stress go faster — for you speed is the preferred
response to most things. But this is dangerous because it makes you far
more likely to abuse your body’s adrenalin response and increase its
reliance on cortisol.
‘Good’ stress that can help you stretch, grow and expand your comfort zone. Too much cortisol for
too long is a recipe
Constant stress, or too much stress, that destroys health and creates a
The point at which eustress becomes distress is different for each individual.
Rather than trying to go faster and ending up exhausted, get rid of those
We all have our own stress threshold, the point at which we’re tipped over
things that are slowing you down by
the edge. Stressful events can add up and, no matter how high your stress
threshold is, you can still suffer from burnout. > remembering how to relax
> adjusting your attitude to time
> enjoying more pause in your life
> freeing up capacity
The result will be effortless speed.
meditation may not be
> set aside time where you don’t
do a thing
> don’t do a thing during that Meditate your
> do this often own way
maybe the active meditation of tai chi, or maybe something else entirely.
Make sure you Rock climbing … embroidery … writing poetry.
The goal is not simply to seek
schedule some time distraction but to seek engagement
when you do and mental stimulation.
absolutely nothing. This is a powerful way to centre you in the living moment and put you in a
state of calm readiness.
People who live in-time do not notice the passing minutes. They bury People who live through-time can tell you what time it is fairly accurately
themselves in an activity only to be astonished when they notice they have without looking at a watch. It’s as if they are highly attuned to the passing of
not eaten or when they get a call telling them they missed an important the hours. They automatically gauge how long every task will take and they
meeting. can make impressively accurate estimations.
> run late
> do what they say they will
> immerse themselves in what they’re doing > don’t commit lightly
> produce results but not always when required > focus on details
> tend to take on too much > could take more risks
> can be very spontaneous > try to make others more aware of time
If you’re an in-time adrenalin junkie, you’re always waking up to some If you’re a through-time adrenalin junkie, you never escape a sense
emergency or other. Not thinking ahead leaves you in a constant state of of urgency. You make everything a priority and as a result nothing is.
reaction. A little forethought and planning can make a world of difference. A little more respect for flexibility and a focus on what’s important will
help you heaps.
Everyone is always busy. Rather than seeking to slow down, plenty of
people seem to relish the fact they’re habitually short of time. When asked
how they’re going they’ll reply
Wristwatches are mini
Phew, flat out adrenalin whips.
I’ve no time for anything these days, I barely have
time to scratch. Clocks aren’t the problem:
Our language and our behaviours
define us. People use timepieces to create urgency in their lives. By watching the
watch they are controlled by time. They use it to feed their obsession with
Try saying how pressed for time they are.
I have lots of time, I’m feeling on top of things
No rush, take your time
I’m easy, when is a good time for you? Get out of time with
Try And let’s lose language like
ASAP the 10 Day No Watch
This is urgent
Quickly, hurry up
How many times a day do you glance at your watch? If the thought of not
If time is a problem for you, change wearing one makes you feel anxious, then go ahead and try taking it off for
your relationship to it. Start by 10 days. You might find it helps you to be more casual about deadlines and
time-pressures. It might help to free up your attitude to time and reduce
changing the words you use. some adrenalin spikes.
All the tips on time management in the world aren’t much comfort if you’re
overloaded and struggling with the pressures of multiple responsibilities.
You are already at maximum capacity.
How to grow a bigger
Your cup is full. cup
> get fit and healthy so you can handle more
> learn a new skill
> do less so that you have more breathing space in your day
You have 2 options
How to empty your
1 get a bigger cup
2 get rid of something
> stop doing some of the things you are doing
> hire help: ironing, decorating, blow-drying, baby-sitting, gardening,
dog-walking, you name it
> shift from 100% perfection all the time to 80% very good most of
Too often when we’re flat out we go in search of solutions that paradoxically Keep your energy levels high by stopping for 30 minutes in the middle of the
require us to do more things. We go to workshops and come away with a day. This will mean you have a burst of energy at 3.00 pm rather than at
few more things to do. We speak with mentors and discuss more things to 9.00 pm.
do to change our life.
If you’ve had a tough time at work, go for a brief walk before you step in the
Have you ever taken old, unloved clothes out of an over-full wardrobe and door back home.
put them in a charity bin? How did you feel?
Deleting unnecessary and self-imposed
activities/tasks/obligations from your Create your
life is a surefire way to free up
capacity. The thoughts that you fill
your head with don’t always help you
either. Get all your thoughts working
towards what’s important and dump to help you
Make your love for the adrenalin high work for you. Look at your day in
advance and choose when you think Adrenalin Priority Events are likely to
occur. Then spend the rest of the day sparing adrenalin for those moments
when you can give yourself permission to go APE. stress.
You’re on purpose if You’re not on purpose if
> the activities you do seem to flow effortlessly > you are doing what others want you to do
> you ask yourself all the time: is this the best use of > you are doing something because it has always
my time? been done that way, regardless if it’s the best way
> you are purposefully doing what you were meant > you are doing things that seem urgent but don’t
to do really have much point
> you are doing things that make you feel good about > you are spending too much time doing things
yourself you’re not good at
> you understand that even difficult tasks are worth > you feel that everything is an effort and takes too
the effort if they are part of a bigger gain long to finish
> you are delegating those tasks that you are not > you are working all the time but not doing what
good at, or you’re developing your abilities in you want to do for yourself
those areas > you are dissatisfied at the end of the day
> you are enjoying what you do
> breathe deeply
> prioritise adrenalin events, and don’t use up all your precious fuel
if it’s not warranted
> build a strong heart to help counteract the physical damage
brought on by stress
> don’t skip meals and put your body under more stress
> tell yourself all is well Spare a thought
> step off the speed sometimes and create calm moments in your day
> manage your accumulated stress, so that you don’t find yourself
feeling more and more irritable as the day goes on
> stop before every reaction and ask yourself what’s the best thing to
do or say now
> remind yourself everyone is doing the best they can with what they
> laugh a lot, chill and watch something funny
> take care with stimulants, such as nicotine and caffeine, which
prevent you from relaxing
> work out hard to counter increased muscle tension and burn off